‘We are happy campers’

Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival marks 21st anniversary with music, crafts, games, magic and more to delight the whole family


The wildly popular Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, one of the city’s most anticipated summer events, will soon be underway, and this year, it’s all about family fun.

As part of the festival’s 21st celebration this June, organizers have announced a spectacular lineup of family entertainment, with a wide variety of crafts, music, science, puppets, games, animals and magic.

“We have so many free, fun and fantastic things for children and families to enjoy over the four day event,” said artistic director Antony Cooper. “It’s going to be really exciting.”

The festival, which takes place at the picturesque Mooney’s Bay Park on the Rideau River from June 19 – 22, will also feature interactive presentations and performances from Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, The Great Balanzo of Acme Circus, Illusionist Chris Pilsworth, L’il John the Clown and Radical Science.

The family fun continues with heart-pumping thrills such as a 27’ inflatable slide, an obstacle course, and a Smurf Bouncer.

Other activities include the ever-popular bouncy castle, the magician Michael Bourada, a Birds of Prey Flight Show by the Canadian Raptor Conservancy, and the Paddling Puppeteers, who will tell the story of the First Nation’s history on the beautiful Ottawa River.

“We are thrilled to present such a diverse group of quality performers,” said festival CEO John Brooman. “We couldn’t do this without the continuing support from our generous sponsors, various granting bodies and community organizations.

“We hope families join us for all the fun at the Tim Hortons Children’s Area, in addition to all of the other festivities.”

The full schedule of free children’s entertainment is listed at www.dragonboat.net.

The festival, which is North America’s largest dragon boating event with more than 200 teams in corporate, community and competitive categories, is a not-for-profit event  founded in 1993. The first festival was held in 1994 as a small half-day event that has since become an exciting multi-day celebration of the arts, sports, culture and heritage.

Admission is free to the festival’s multiple stages, with live entertainment, amusement attractions, extreme sports demonstrations, a variety of artisans, exhibitors and culinary treats,  as well as a beachside bar, and of course, endless family fun with the Tim Hortons Children’s Area and non-stop racing.

The dragon boat festival is one of the city’s largest and most widely appealing community events, says Brooman.

“The festival is important to the community because of its diversity,” he said. “We cater to all ages and are the single largest free festival in the City of Ottawa.”

He noted the festival’s significant economic impact, and pointed out that it supports local tourism with many out-of-town visitors, creates jobs, has 750 volunteers and its separately run foundation raises money for several local charities. 

And, he said, it is simply a fantastic way to get out and enjoy some quality family time – which is similar to how the festival operates.

“One reason it is so great for families is because we run it like a family,” he said.

“We have a core of dedicated volunteers and staff that work incredibly well together and the icing is on the cake is seeing all of these people pulling together during the festival and having fun doing it.

“We are ‘happy campers’, and I believe that is felt by those that come to the site to have some fun.”

Photo: depositphotos.com © duben